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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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towards Poland were, in the Russian opinion at least, modest and more
appertaining to prestige than to anything else. At that time Soviet
statesmen held numerous interviews with their Polish ex-prisoners in an
atmosphere of effusive cordiality, and seemed anxious to obtain informa-
tion on a number of points. One issue to which the Russians stubbornly
returned time and time again, was the question of the Ukraine. In spite
of all the pressure of Russian propaganda, it had been clear to every peasant
in the Soviet Ukraine that the Ukrainians in Poland were living under
much better conditions, and, moreover, living on the soil which they
personally ownedówithout the collective farm system and without the
ever-present fear of deportation.*
In their talks with the Poles, during that autumn of 1941, the Kremlin
leaders hinted at their willingness to settle the Ukrainian problem in
Poland by transferring the Ukrainians from Eastern Poland to the Soviet
Union. The question of land meant nothing to the Soviets. They were
then prepared to limit their territorial demands to some trifling proportion,
a few districts perhaps. Eastern Poland was less than one-hundredth
part of Russia and a few million Ukrainians and White Ruthenians had
only a relative value as man-power. It was, however, a solution which
would finally liquidate the Ukrainian and White Ruthenian problem for
the Kremlin, at any rate. The Russians, therefore, proceeded to make
cautious enquiries of the Poles and threw out hints (which in no way
bound them) and to await the reaction. As none was forthcoming, they
did not pursue the topic further.f
* Cardwell Su Ann, Poland and Russia, Th; last quarter of the century. New
York, 1944.
The authoress lived for seventeen years in Poland and had visited Russia and the
neighbouring countries extensively. " During those seventeen years in Poland,"
she writes, " We (my husband and I) had extraordinary opportunities for getting
acquainted with people of all classes. We knew pre-war Poland from east to west,
and from north to south." The authoress continues :
" As for the Ukrainians in Poland being desirous of uniting with the Soviet
Republic of the Ukraine, nothing appealed to them less. During the first ten
years of my residence in Poland, that is between 1922ó1933, fugitives from the
Soviet Ukraine were continually attempting to cross the border into Poland.
They tried to swim the Zbrucz in summer and to cross on the ice in winter. Red
patrols watched that border and guards with machine guns stationed in hidden
positions were on the alert. Searchlight beams moved over the river and along
the paths at night. Hundreds of luckless folk in flight from the Soviet side lost
their lives in the attempt. But a great many succeeded and the news they brought
of life in the U.S.S.R., and their own miserable appearance was not of the son to
encourage longings among the Polish Ukrainians to live under the banner of the
hammer and sickle." (Page 162).
t Editora The Nineteenth Century and After, November, 1943:
The chief reason why Russia has claimed the Polish province of Eastern Galicia,
which was never Russian, even in Tsarist days, is that it harbours a Ukrainian
population. Stalin will not tolerate the existence of a specific Ukrainian con-
sciousness and, therefore, a Ukrainian population that is not under his control.
If ... the future Russian-Polish border leaves at least a part of Eastern Galicia,
including the city of Lw6w, perhaps to Poland, Russia wifl certainly demand that
the Ukrainian population be handed over by the Polish authorities for deportation
into the Russian interior.